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A King Called Jesus

Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)

by Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To reflect on the significance of Palm Sunday.

Preparation and materials

  • Gather images of beach donkeys, plus one of a donkey appropriate as an illustration for the story in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3, and a Palm Sunday procession and have the means to show them during the assembly (check copyright).
  • You might like to read the story of Palm Sunday in the Bible, which can be found in Mark 11.1–11.

Assembly

  1. Ask if any of the children have ridden a donkey. How did it feel? How might it have felt to the donkey?

    Show the images of beach donkeys.

    Explain that beach donkeys enjoy a well-earned rest through the winter months. Like many other animals, donkeys don’t like a lot of fuss and noise. Sometimes they can be quite stubborn (not want to do what you want them to do) and that makes the story of Palm Sunday even more extraordinary.

  2. Go on to explain that Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. It is called this because palm leaves were waved at and strewn before Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. It celebrates how the last week of Jesus’ life began. Then, as in many parts of the world today, donkeys were used to help carry loads, even people.

  3. Tell the following story in your own words.

    Show the image of a donkey selected to illustrate the story.

    Dinky the donkey

    Dinky was a young donkey. He still lived at the house where he was born. It was just outside Jerusalem, near to a place called the Mount of Olives.

    He was still being ‘broken in’, meaning that he was not yet fully trained or used to people.

    Imagine Dinky’s surprise when, one day, two strangers came to where he was standing, outside the doorway of the house. They untied his tether to lead him away. Dinky didn’t like that at all! He brayed loudly. He kicked and stamped and made such a noise that his owner rushed to the door.

    ‘What are you doing with my donkey?’ he demanded. ‘The Master needs it’, said one of the men. ‘Then that’s all right,’ replied Dinky’s owner, ‘I did say that I’d help, but take good care of him.’ With a few treats, Dinky was encouraged to follow the men along the road.

    A group of people sat in the shade of an ancient olive tree. ‘Well done! You’ve got the donkey’, said a voice. ‘We have,’ the two men replied, ‘but you’ll have to be careful, he’s not used to being ridden.’

    Ridden?! Dinky’s ears pricked up in alarm. He stamped in annoyance. He tried to throw off the soft blanket that had been placed over his back, but then someone whispered into his ear and that seemed to make everything all right. The same person gently climbed on to his back and Dinky was led down the hill towards the town.

    ‘It’s Jesus!’ called a young girl. ‘Welcome, Jesus!’ The man riding Dinky smiled and waved and the little donkey realized who was on his back. It was Jesus, who helped and cared for people, who told wonderful stories and taught people how to live good lives!

    At the sound of his name, many others gathered round. They cheered, ‘Hurray!’ 

    Invite the children to echo these and the following words shouted by the crowd.

    They called out, ‘Hosanna!’ They shouted, ‘Praise God’ and ‘Welcome, Jesus’. Dinky was rather frightened by the noise, but Jesus gently patted his neck and on they went.

    Some of the crowd waved palm branches like flags. They put them in the road to stop the dust flying up over Jesus. Others even laid their cloaks on the road, like a carpet, for Dinky to walk on. 

    ‘Hurray!’  . . .   ‘Jesus is our King!’ they cheered.

    ‘A king?’ thought Dinky. ‘Shouldn’t kings ride on great horses and in chariots – not little donkeys like me? I wouldn’t hurt a thing.’ Then he remembered the quiet whisper in his ear and the kind hand patting his neck and realized that neither would Jesus. In fact, Jesus had chosen to ride him – a donkey – to show that he was the king of peace.

    It was a day that Dinky remembered all his life. Of course, he never really liked crowds, especially when he learned later what another crowd had done to Jesus. (They had him killed – can you believe that?) Often, on a long journey or during a hard day’s work, Dinky would think of the gentleness of the man he carried to Jerusalem. ‘If only there were more people like Jesus,’ Dinky thought, ‘the world would be far more peaceful and a better place.’

  4. Explain that, on Palm Sunday, Christians tell different versions of this story. Some borrow a donkey and organize processions and many carry palms and make crosses. 

    Display the image of a procession and refer to the cross-shaped mark on a donkey’s back.

    All this is done to remember that Jesus was welcomed as a king of peace.

Time for reflection

Think of all that lies ahead today and/or the Easter holidays, soon to begin. How might you show gentleness to other creatures and kindness to other people? How might you follow the way of peace?

Prayer
Lord Jesus,
We want to welcome you and shout out, ‘Hosanna! Praise God!’
We want to help and serve you and share friendship and peace.
Amen.

Song/music

Hosanna!’ (Songs for Every Easter,Out of the Ark Music, 1996)

‘Sing aloud and shout hosanna!’, as follows, which is based on an original Easter song, ‘We have a king who rides a donkey’ by Fred Kaan (Hope Publishing Company, 1968). It is sung to the tune of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?’.

Humbly riding on a donkey,
Humbly riding on a donkey,
Humbly riding on a donkey,
Comes a king called Jesus.

Sing aloud and shout Hosanna!
Sing aloud and shout Hosanna!
Sing aloud and shout Hosanna!
We will make him welcome.

Palm branches waving, swaying
Palm branches, waving, swaying
Palm branches waving, swaying
For a king called Jesus.

Sing aloud and shout Hosanna!
. . . 

Lay out a road before him
Lay out a road before him
Lay out a road before him
For a king called Jesus.

Sing aloud and shout Hosanna!
. . .

Join hands in peace and friendship
Join hands in peace and friendship
Join hands in peace and friendship
For a king called Jesus.

Sing aloud and shout Hosanna!
. . .

Publication date: March 2015   (Vol.17 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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